WeChat users in U.S. will not be penalized, says Justice Department

Users who sued claim Trump's ban on WeChat prohibits "millions of WeChat users in the United States … from using the most popular social media space for Chinese speakers in the world."

The Justice Department said on Wednesday that U.S.-based users of the Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat will not face civil or criminal penalties, even if the messaging app is banned as planned by the federal government next week.

Last month, impeached president-in-name-only Donald Trump said all U.S. transactions with WeChat's owner Tencent Holdings Ltd were banned. The executive order called Tencent's WeChat and Bytedance's TikTok "significant threats" to American national security, and was launched by the Trump administration right after they announced a purge of "untrusted" Chinese apps.

Trump's move was big on posturing, short on details.

"Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is set to release regulations by Sunday clarifying what WeChat transactions will be prohibited," reports Reuters:

WeChat users have filed a motion in U.S. District Court in San Francisco seeking a preliminary injunction to bar the Trump administration from prohibiting the use of WeChat in the United States by individual users, businesses and groups. A hearing on the request is for Thursday.

The Justice Department responded in a filing on Wednesday that Ross does not plan to target persons or groups who only download or use WeChat to convey personal or business information and said they would not face criminal or civil penaltes.

But the department added that "use of the app for such communications could be directly or indirectly impaired through measures targeted at other transactions."

More at Reuters: U.S. says WeChat users will not be penalized